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Aviation Engineer / Specialist

Purpose of a Propeller

• The purpose of a propeller is to convert the

power delivered by an engine into
propulsive thrust in order to propel an
aircraft. This is achieved by the acceleration
of a comparatively large mass of air
rearwards, thereby producing forward thrust
(remember Newton’s third law). The
acceleration applied is not large when
compared with other reaction systems.
The standard formula for calculating thrust force

m˙e the mass flow rate or mass per unit time at the nozzle exit of
a propulsion device,
m˙0 the mass flow rate or mass per unit time at the nozzle
entrance or free stream region of the propulsion device,
V e the velocity at the nozzle exit ,
V 0 the velocity at the free stream region ,
p e the pressure at nozzle exit ,
p 0 the free stream pressure ,
A e the nozzle exit area ,
Major Propeller Components
Blade Geometry
Blade Terminology
Pitch, or Blade Angle
Angle of Attack

• Disadvantages
• A fixed pitch propeller receives its relative airflow
from a direction governed by the aircraft’s true
airspeed (TAS) in the direction of flight and its
own RPM in the plane of rotation. The operating
angle of attack will be the angle between the
relative airflow and the chord line of the propeller
blade. This chord line will be set at an angle to the
plane of rotation; the “blade angle” or propeller
“pitch angle”.
Propeller Efficiency

At high forward speed/low RPM (power off dive) it is possible to

reduce the angle of attack to zero, while at low TAS/high RPM
(climb) it is possible to stall the propeller blade. Both extremes are
obviously inefficient and therefore undesirable. The conclusion that
must be drawn is that for a given fixed pitch, a propeller will only
work efficiently at one combination of TAS and RPM. The
efficiency achieved will usually be in the range 80-90%.
Fixed pitch propeller
• With a fixed pitch propeller being driven by a
Piston Engine, the RPM is dependent on the
power setting (throttle position) selected by the
pilot and the TAS of the aircraft. It would be
possible to overspeed the engine in a dive if the
throttle were not backed off (closed). Conversely,
with the aircraft stationary on the ground it may
not be possible to achieve rated RPM with the
throttle fully open.
Advantages over Fixed Pitch Propellers
• The power setting of a piston engine is defined by a combination
of manifold pressure (boost) and RPM. Where separate Power
Lever and RPM Lever control is provided, it is possible to vary
one while leaving the other constant, so optimising the operation
of the engine/propeller combination to give best efficiency/fuel
economy and least engine wear and tear.
• In order to achieve this a “Variable Pitch” propeller must be used;
enabling the pilot to select a propeller pitch and thus to vary RPM
independently of manifold pressure, provided that the propeller is
operating between its internal fine and coarse pitch stops.
• Once an RPM has been selected, a control unit (CSU - Constant
Speed Unit or PCU – Propeller Control Unit) will automatically
vary the propeller pitch angle and therefore its angle of attack to
the prevailing relative airflow in order to maintain the selected
RPM despite airspeed and manifold pressure variations.
• The basic problem with varying pitch is twofold; one
of actuation and one of control.
• Theoretically it should be perfectly possible to design
either pneumatic or electrical actuation of a propeller’s
pitch change mechanism, the former is unknown and
the latter quite rare. The preferred method of pitch
change actuation has turned out to be hydraulic,
utilising the engine’s lubrication system as the source
of hydraulic power. The pressure boosted where
necessary by a small, additional oil pump mounted in
the CSU or PCU.
• A single acting propeller is constructed basically like any
other, in that the blades are arranged around a central,
engine-driven hub with the cylindrical hydraulic pitch-
change mechanism mounted to the front.
• The pitch change cylinder contains a moveable piston
which is pushed rearwards by boosted engine oil pressure.
Although it is possible to arrange things otherwise, usually
this rearward movement of the piston will turn the
propeller blades towards fine pitch.
• This is accomplished by a mechanical linkage behind the
piston operating an actuating pin on the butt of each blade;
off-set so as to impart the correct range of angular motion.
• Blade rotation towards coarse pitch is provided by either a
spring, or centrifugally actuated counter weights. Most
propellers of this type, however, will contain both. Some
propellers replace the spring with compressed gas,
requiring a reversal of the hydraulic direction.
• The springs have a dual function, they assist the centrifugal
counterweights in operating the propeller blades to coarse
pitch and, where this facility is provided, actuate the blades
into the feathered position when RPM is low with
consequent loss of centrifugal action.
CSU/PCU Functions

The function of the control unit in

controlling RPM at the pilot’s command is
to control the oil flow in three modes:-
• Oil supply to fine pitch. (RPM increases)
• Oil shut off/hydraulic lock. (RPM steady)
• Drain of fine-pitch oil back to scavenge.
(RPM decreases)
• The double acting propeller may be similar in mechanical
operation to the single acting unit, or may achieve pitch
angle change via a cam-slot operated, rotating bevel gear
actuating bevel gear segments at the base of each blade .
• The link operated mechanism will be used as the generic
type for study purposes.
• This type of propeller has a similar, if rather larger pitch
change cylinder mounted to the front of the hub. It also
contains an hydraulic piston, but this is now isolated from
the centre of the hub and the fore-and-aft links provided
with pressure seals. This allows hydraulic pressure to be
directed to either side of the piston. Fine-pitch oil to one
side and coarse-pitch oil to the other.
• Assistance from springs or centrifugal counter-weights is
therefore not required.
CSU/PCU Functions

• As with the single acting propeller’s

controller, there are three control modes for
the CSU\PCU:
• Deliver fine-pitch oil (increase RPM).
Allow drain of coarse-pitch oil.
• Oil shut-off/hydraulic lock. (Constant RPM)
• Deliver coarse-pitch oil. (Decrease RPM)
Allow drain of fine-pitch oil.
• A tendency for RPM to increase, an overspeed condition,
must be met with a supply of oil to the coarse pitch side of
the pitch change unit’s piston. The pitch will then coarsen
and propeller torque will rise as a result of the increase in the
blade angle of attack.
• Propeller torque now exceeds engine torque and will cause
RPM to decrease back to the selected setting. As RPM drops
back to where it should be, the valve selection in the CSU
which caused the oil flow in the first place must be removed
• A tendency for the propeller to underspeed must be met with
the opposite reaction. A supply of oil must be sent to the fine
pitch side of the operating piston to decrease the propeller’s
pitch angle. This will decrease the propeller’s torque. Engine
torque now exceeds propeller torque, so RPM will tend to
rise to regain the pilot’s selection. When propeller torque
equals engine torque, RPM remains constant.
Over and underspeed condition
Feathering - Single Acting Propeller
• To feather a single acting propeller, the propeller (RPM) control
lever is moved fully to the rear and then dog legged to one side or
pushed inward (according to the particular linkage) to allow a
further rearward movement into the “feathered” position.
• This raises the rack in the CSU as far as it will go, simulating an
exaggerated “overspeed” condition by removing all loading from
the speeder spring and allowing the flyweights to fly right out if
the engine is running and lifting the control valve right up. Most
CSUs cater for the engine stopped situation (zero flyweight force)
by arranging that a full feather selection will bypass the speeder
spring to physically lift the control valve upwards.
• Any oil in the pitch change cylinder can now drain away allowing
the counter weights, if the engine is turning, or, the spring if not,
to push the piston onto the feathering stop.
Unfeathering - Single Acting Propeller
• The speeder spring is given some pressure by moving the
propeller lever to a position parallel with the lever of the
operating engine. This moves the control valve down, ensuring
that any pressure oil will be directed to fine pitch. It is common
practise, where single acting propellers are used to provide a
reserve of pressurised oil in an accumulator; trapped by a non-
return valve and released by a solenoid operated valve.
• The oil is released into the CSU by energising the solenoid via
a cockpit mounted button. The oil will force the piston off the
feather stop towards fine pitch. As soon as there exists an angle
of attack to the aircraft’s relative airflow, aerodynamic reaction
will cause the propeller and engine to turn. Ignition and fuel, in
accordance with the operating manual, are all that are required
to achieve restart.
Centrifugal latch (Feathering Stop)
• When an aircraft with a single acting propeller is stopped on the ground after
flight, the propeller will be in fully fine pitch. There is a considerable quantity
of pressure oil trapped in the fine- pitch side of the pitch change cylinder,
holding the propeller in the fully fine position, but opposed by the force of the
feathering spring. After shut-down, the trapped pressure will gradually leak
away through the fine clearances of the CSU control valve. The feathering
springs will gradually push the propeller blades towards the fully feathered
position overnight.
• While this condition would be acceptable on a free turbine turboprop, this
would result in an unacceptably high loading on the engine starter motor for a
piston engine. To prevent this, centrifugal latches, disengaged with the engine
running, will be engaged at an RPM below the manufacturer’s chosen setting,
typically 700 RPM. This latch assembly engages latch pins attached to the rear
of the pitch change piston after forward movement equivalent to about 5 of
blade angle, preventing it from being pushed further forward and into the
feathered position by the feathering spring.
• When the engine is started, oil pressure will quickly build up and re-position
the propeller pitch- change piston onto the fine pitch stop, moving the blades
to fully fine pitch. Centrifugal force will disengage the latch system as RPM is
raised through 700, up to warm-up setting - 1,100 - 1,200 RPM.
• When centrifugal latches are fitted, it is not possible to feather a failing engine
once RPM has fallen below the latch setting. It is thus important to complete
the feathering drill before this occurs.
Feathering - Double Acting Propeller

As a double acting propeller has no mechanical assistance from

counterweights, springs etc., all actuation must be hydraulic.
Reference to Figure 12.19 below shows that a protected source of
feathering oil is provided. Usually as an isolated part of the main
oil tank in a drysump lubrication system. This oil is sent to the
propeller by an electrically driven “Feathering Pump”.

• Some turboprop engines are provided with a

system of control defined by “Alpha” and
“Beta” ranges of propeller operation. The
Alpha range is used at high speed during the
take-off run, in flight and during the initial,
high speed part of the landing roll-out. The
Beta range, however, is used only on the
ground. It is selected during the landing
roll-out by removal of the flight fine pitch
stop inside the propeller’s pitch change
• In order to reduce tiring noise and vibration on propeller
driven aircraft, the Engine/Propeller assemblies are often
provide with a means to equalise the RPM. A
Synchronisation system will reduce the annoying “beat
frequency” and lower noise levels significantly.
• The aircraft will have a designated “Master Engine” whose
PCU can generate an RPM signal to a control unit also
receiving RPM signals from the other “slave” engines.
When the synchronising system is engaged, any RPM
differences between the master and slave engines will be
sensed by the control unit. This generates proportional,
positive or negative current output to torque motors
mounted on the slave PCUs; such that lower RPM will
cause the torque motor to turn one way, while higher rpm
will cause a rotation of the torque motor in the opposite
A further significant improvement in noise levels can be
obtained by ensuring that adjacent propeller tips are
separated by some optimum angle to prevent noisy
Some aircraft provide the pilot with a means of manually
“fine tuning” this angle to obtain the quietest result.

• Where a powerful aero engine needs a large

propeller to convert its power into thrust, too large
a diameter would bring the risk of sonic
compressibility and blade flutter if the propeller
were rotated too fast.
• In order to be able to use a large diameter
propeller, the engine, turning at its maximum
RPM, cannot be directly connected to the
propeller; so the drive speed must be reduced to a
more suitable level by a reduction gear placed in
the driveline between engine and propshaft.
Epicyclic Reduction Gear
• The torque meter is provided to give the pilot information about
the amount of power he is deploying from his engines during any
phase of flight. It may be calibrated in torque units such as Pounds
Feet (lb. ft.) or Newton metres (NM), in Brake Horse Power
(BHP) or any other suitable unit of power.
There are two main varieties of torque signalling systems:-
• Electronic - where the twist of an intermediate drive shaft, being
proportional to the transmitted power, is measured electronically
and the angle signal used to drive the torque meter. This is
inherently lighter and more reliable than other types.
• Oil pressure - where the end thrust of a helically cut planet wheel
or the torque reaction of a ring gear is used to alter the oil pressure
of the torque transmission system. This pressure is then read off
on the torque meter gauge.
• The most common approach to prevent the buildup of
ice on the propeller blades is to de-ice the leading edge
of each blade with a heater. Ice is allowed to build up
slightly before the heater is turned on. Once the heater
is on, the ice is slung off, and the heater is turned off
again. The on-off cycle is controlled either by a de-
icing timer or by the aircraft computer. This permits
minimal use of electric power, as the requirement is
for only enough heat to melt the thin layer of ice
holding the mass of ice to the blade. Once the ice is
loosened from the inside, centrifugal force removes
the ice.
Summary of safety features

• Feather. Feather is employed if an engine must be

shut down. In feathering, the blades are turned so
that the leading edges are pointed essentially in the
direction of flight. In this position, the
aerodynamic forces on the propeller result in a low
drag condition.
• Pitch lock. Pitch lock is used with dual-acting
systems. Pitch lock functions whenever there is a
loss of oil pressure to the propeller, locking the
blade pitch at a slightly lower pitch angle than
when the pitch was under the control of the
governor. This feature prevents the blade pitch
from decreasing while still allowing the blades to
increase pitch up to feather if so commanded.
Summary of safety features
• Counterweight. When there is a loss of oil
pressure, the counterweight increases the blade
pitch to a safe setting. This system is always used
in singleacting systems, and can be used for dual-
acting systems.
• Overspeed governor. The overspeed governor is a
backup governor that controls propeller speed if
the main governor or control is not functioning.
Typically, it protects against overspeed of the
propeller by governing at about 102-104% RPM.
• Auxiliary oil pump and oil sump. In the event of
an oil system failure or loss of oil pressure due to
engine failure, these auxiliary components provide
backup oil pressure to feather the propeller in
dual-acting systems.
Flameout or severe engine damage
• For propeller systems with an auto-feather, auto-
coarsen or Negative Torque Sensing (NTS)
feature, the propeller will automatically react in
the event of loss of engine power as long as the
system is armed. For systems without autofeather,
the propeller system will attempt to continue to
govern the propeller operation. This will result in
windmilling, and the propeller will begin driving
the engine section to which it is connected. This in
turn causes an increase in drag, causing the
airplane to yaw in the direction of the dead engine.
Compressor surge

• Depending on the severity of the surge,

there may be insufficient time for the
propeller system to react to the event. If the
event is prolonged, a drop in propeller
torque might be observed. If the engine
does not recover, the propeller will react as
in the flameout case, and may require
similar action.
Birdstrike or Foreign Object Damage (FOD)

• If a bird or other foreign object strikes the propeller with

sufficient force, blade damage can occur. This damage
may, in turn, cause unbalance in the propeller’s rotation,
resulting in vibrations in the aircraft. Follow the
recommended procedures for excessive vibration, after
first ensuring that the airplane is in stable flight at a safe
altitude. The procedures may include feathering the
propeller and shutting down the engine to reduce vibration.
• The foreign material may reach the engine without
damaging the propeller. In this case, the engine may surge,
flameout, or suffer damage. See the applicable information
for surges and engine flameout/damage.
Loss of reverse function
• This condition can be difficult to detect prior to landing. One indicator during
normal flight is when a propeller is found to be pitchlocked. In this case,
reverse will not be available and should not be attempted on landing. Refer to
the AFM for the procedures for landing with a pitchlocked propeller.
• If a pitchlock is not evident and the powerplant is functioning normally, the
pilot should check that both (or all, on a 4-engine plane) beta lights illuminate
during landing when the power lever is pulled to flight idle, prior to selection
of reverse.
• If one light does not illuminate, the pilot should assume that its associated
propeller will not reverse due to being pitchlocked or having a malfunctioning
control system.
• The lack of beta light may be the only indication available to the pilot.
• Selecting reverse on both propellers when one is incapable of reverse
operation will result in asymmetric thrust, since one propeller will reverse and
the other propeller will remain in positive or neutral thrust. Follow the AFM
procedures for landing with one propeller at the low-pitch stop (no reverse).
Overspeed governor activation
• Failure of the main propeller governor will result in the
activation of the propeller overspeed governor. The NP
gage will typically be steady at 103 to 105%. The noise in
the cabin will be increased because the RPM is higher than
normal and the synchronizer/syncrophaser will not be
functioning (because the other propeller is turning at a
normal RPM). The RPM will not decrease or increase
when commanded by the condition lever or a speed-
selection device. Operating on the overspeed governor
typically means that reverse thrust operation is not
available, although flat-pitch operation on the ground may
be available. Each installation is different, and the AFM
instructions should be used.
Overspeed above the overspeed governor setting
• One of the concerns many flight crews have when an overspeed
is encountered is that the blades will be released from the hub.
However, propeller blade retention systems are designed not only
to withstand the centrifugal loads from overspeed rotation, but
also to withstand the loads caused by the effect of airflow on the
blades. Blade and retention system capability is demonstrated
during certification by testing at twice the maximum centrifugal
load. Twice centrifugal load occurs at 141% speed.
• No turboprop propeller blades have ever been broken or released
due to an overspeed event.
• There are a number of different situations that could cause
overspeed above the overspeed governor’s ability to control the
propeller. Appropriate responses will be different for each
system. A general recommendation is to avoid being distracted
by the noise of the overspeeding propeller. Continue to fly the
airplane and follow AFM recommendations for aircraft operation
and/or engine shutdown.
• Overtorque malfunctions may occur for a number of
• Overtorquing will occur whenever the propeller blade pitch
increases faster than the engine control can accommodate
the rate of increase. This can be due to an autofeather
malfunction of the autofeather control system, or a
malfunction of the propeller control system that results in
uncommanded increase in pitch. For these malfunctions,
the airplane may experience a temporary yaw, followed by
a low NP and high torque indications. The high torque
indication may be a transient condition, and the propeller
RPM will remain low. Follow the approved AFM
procedures for feathering the propeller and shutdown of
the engine.
Uncommanded feather
• Uncommanded feather is very similar to the overtorque
condition noted above.
• The propeller pitch will abruptly increase, causing a rapid rise
in torque with a rapid drop in RPM because the engine is still
providing power to the propeller. While the pitch is changing,
the thrust may increase and then decrease rapidly. The airplane
will have asymmetric thrust. The pilot will need to control the
airplane and then shut down the engine. The high torque may
cause engine and propeller damage, but it will not, if properly
handled, cause loss of control of the airplane.
• There are a number of different reasons why an uncommanded
feather may occur. Most of these reasons involve an
unprompted command to the feather solenoid. Stabilize the
aircraft and follow the AFM recommended procedure.
Typically, this will call for feathering the propeller to minimize
drag and shutting down the engine.
Inability to change pitch
• A malfunction resulting in the inability to change
pitch will effectively leave the flight crew with a
fixed-pitch propeller. As power is increased, the
propeller RPM will increase, and as power is
reduced, the propeller RPM will decrease. In
flight, a change in the condition lever without a
corresponding change in propeller RPM
• (NP) is also an indication that the propeller has
lost the ability to change pitch. Even though the
pitch cannot be changed, the propeller is still
controllable and capable of producing thrust.
• If excessive vibration is present, the propeller that
is creating vibration may be identified by
adjusting power or RPM settings. Ensure that the
airplane is in stable and controlled flight before
undertaking any troubleshooting. Follow the AFM
procedures for propeller feather and engine shut
down if the vibration is beyond limits or is
otherwise unacceptable, and if the source of the
vibration has been clearly identified as coming
from a specific propeller.
Sudden high vibration
• Sudden high vibration is typically caused by the
loss of a portion of a blade, a large crack in a
blade, the release of a counterweight, or the failure
of a blade pitch change pin. These events are
sudden and can be startling. The pilot needs to
react promptly and deliberately. After ensuring
stable and controlled flight, identify the propeller
that is causing the vibration and follow the AFM
feather and shutdown procedures. Identification
may be difficult; be sure to verify by
crosschecking instrumentation.
RPM and torque fluctuation
• Propeller speed and torque fluctuations occur due
to changes in engine power, changes in propeller
pitch, or a combination of the two. Generally, if
RPM and torque increase or decrease together, the
situation is usually caused by a change in the
power delivered to the propeller. If either RPM or
torque increases while the other decreases, the
situation is usually caused by a blade angle
change. If the frequency or rate of the fluctuation
is low, it may be possible to determine its source
through cockpit instrumentation. High-frequency
fluctuations may not lend themselves to in-flight
diagnosis; on-ground roubleshooting will likely be
required. Refer to the airframe manufacturer’s
recommendations for specific procedures during
RPM/Torque fluctuation.
Loss of de-icing
• Loss of de-icing capability may be indicated by
reduction of the indicated amps drawn by the
system, or by slowly increasing vibration (due to
ice buildup).
• Severe icing can cause loss of performance of the
propeller and significant vibration. The propellers
will continue to shed ice even without blade de-
icing due to centrifugal loads. Increasing the
propeller RPM will cause the centrifugal loads to
increase, and, thus, the ice will shed more readily.
Follow the AFM procedures for aircraft operation
in icing conditions.
Single Acting Propeller - PA34-200T SENECA Aircraft
The first check is a part of the “Power Check”:
• Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1900 RPM
• Propeller (RPM lever) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EXERCISE
• Check - RPM drops when min RPM selected.
• RPM returns to 1900 when max RPM selected.
• Repeat.
• Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1500 RPM
• Propeller Feathering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHECK
• Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CLOSE/SET
1200 RPM
“Before Take-off”
• Propellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MAX RPM
• Propeller De-icing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . AS REQUIRED
If icing condition expected during or immediately after take-off:
• Select - ON
• Check - Propeller de-icing ammeter.
• - Both alternator ammeters.
Double Acting Propeller

• The checks to be carried out are much the same. There will, of course,
be detail differences in basic RPM settings etc., but the object will be
the same. To ensure rapid response to RPM control lever signals.
• It is necessary, once the lubricating oil in the main engine has warmed
sufficiently, to exercise the pitch change mechanism. This will
evacuate the cold, sluggish oil from the pitch change cylinder and
purge it from the CSU and oil passages.
• As with the Seneca, once the oil has warmed, there will be an engine
test procedure which will involve causing the pitch change piston to
traverse from the fine-pitch stop to the feathering stop more than once.
With a double acting propeller, there is not only double the amount of
actuating oil in circulation, but also an extra system to check.
• The correct functioning of the feathering pump may have to be
ascertained, along with the functioning of the pressure operated cut-out
• The diesel engine generally runs at a lower RPM and higher
torque than a conventional engine.
• The good torque outputs translate into greater static-thrust values
allowing the Aircraft greater take-off performance levels.
• These features also allow the use of Constant Speed Propellers
with typically more blades than a conventional gasoline powered
• Gearboxes may be used to ‘step-down’ the engines output RPM to
match engine/propeller performances. Propeller-control in the
modern diesel is co-ordinated with the fuel delivery by means of a
‘single-lever’ concept similar in principle to the Turbo-Prop.
• Fuel scheduling, propeller pitch, torque-monitoring and other
parameters are controlled electronically by the FADEC unit.
• On the ground, an airplane with free-turbine engines is
usually parked with the propellers feathered. For single-
shaft engines, the propellers are typically in flat pitch.
• Prior to the startup of single-shaft engines, the propeller
blades are set to the blade angle that produces minimum
torque. Typically, this will be at a pitch close to 0 degrees.
This is also near the blade angle that produces minimum
thrust for a non-moving airplane.
• For free-turbine engines, the engine is started with the
propeller in feather. After the engine has warmed up, the
propeller is unfeathered to the ground-idle blade position.
Typically, this is near flat pitch.
• When the power lever is increased, the blade angle
increases along a prescribed path known as the beta
schedule, and thrust is produced so that the airplane can
taxi. For taxi, the power lever needs only to be a few
degrees above the angle for ground idle.
• For a non-rolling takeoff, the power is increased, which
increases the blade pitch along the beta schedule until the
propeller begins to govern. This occurs with the airplane braked
until takeoff power and RPM are reached. Blade angle is
typically about 25 degrees.
• When the brakes are released, the airplane rolls down the
runway. To maintain constant power and RPM, the propeller
pitch will increase as airspeed increases.
• When a reduction in the RPM is commanded after initial climb,
the propeller blade angle will increase to allow governing at the
selected RPM. The propeller pitch continues to increase with
increasing airspeed, and also increases whenever a command to
reduce RPM is made. The propeller reaches its maximum angle
at cruise airspeed, power and altitude. This angle is typically
about 40 to 45 degrees, depending on the operating conditions
and selected governing speed.

• When the airplane descends, power is reduced and the blade pitch decreases to
maintain RPM. The pitch will decrease as the airspeed is reduced to maintain a
constant RPM.
• During approach, a propeller RPM of 100% is selected. This will decrease the
blade pitch. During final approach, the airspeed and power are low, and the
propeller RPM may fall below the selected governing speed. This occurs because
the blade angle is limited to a minimum inflight angle to protect against high drag
at very low airspeeds and power. This angle limitation is commonly referred to as
the low-pitch stop. The low-pitch stop is the lowest blade angle that the propeller
can achieve in-flight. This angle is set by the airplane manufacturer, and is
dependent on the specific installation.
• After touchdown, the power lever is pulled back to below flight idle. The
propeller transitions to operation on the prescribed beta schedule. The actual blade
angle is typically a function of power lever position and engine operating
conditions; the angle may be as high as full reverse pitch with the power lever at
full reverse.
• As the airplane slows, the blade pitch is controlled by the power lever, which is
typically positioned near ground idle. After taxi, the engine is shutdown with the
propeller in flat pitch for a single-shaft engine, and feathered for a free turbine
1. The blade angle of a propeller is the
angle between:
a. The root chord and the tip chord of the
b. The chord and the airflow relative to the
c. The chord of the propeller and the longitudinal
axis of the aircraft.
d. The propeller chord and the plane of rotation of
the propeller
2. The blade angle:

a. Is constant along the propeller blade.

b. Decreases from root to tip.
c. Increases from root to tip.
d. Varies with changes in engine rpm.
3. The Geometric Pitch of a propeller is:

a. The distance it would move forward in one

revolution at the blade angle.
b. The angle the propeller chord makes to the
plane of rotation.
c. The distance the propeller actually moves
forward in one revolution.
d. The angle the propeller chord makes to the
relative airflow.
4. A right hand propeller:
a. Rotates in a clockwise direction when
viewed from the rear.
b. Is a propeller fitted to the right hand engine.
c. Rotates in an anti-clockwise direction when
viewed from the rear.
d. Is a propeller mounted in front of the
5. The angle of attack of a fixed pitch propeller:

a. Depends on forward speed only.

b. Depends on forward speed and engine
rotational speed.
c. Depends on engine rotational speed only.
d. Is constant for a fixed pitch propeller.
6. During the take off run a fixed pitch propeller is:
a. At too coarse an angle for maximum
b. At too fine an angle for maximum
c. At the optimum angle for efficiency.
d. At the optimum angle initially but becomes
too coarse as speed increases.
7. For an aircraft with a fixed pitch propeller, an
increase in rev/min during the take off run at full
throttle is due to:

a. An increase in propeller blade slip.

b. The engine overspeeding.
c. A more efficient propeller blade angle of
d. The propeller angle of attack increasing.
8. An aircraft with a fixed pitch propeller goes into a
climb with reduced IAS and increased rev/min.
The propeller:

a. Angle of attack will decrease.

b. Pitch will decrease.
c. Angle of attack will increase.
d. Angle of attack will remain the same
9. For an aircraft with a fixed pitch propeller,
propeller efficiency will be:

a. Low at low speed, high at high speed.

b. High at low speed, low at high speed.
c. Constant at all speeds.
d. Low at both low and high speed, and
highest at cruising speed.
10. The blade angle of a fixed pitch propeller
would be set to give the optimum angle:

a. During take off.

b. During the cruise.
c. At the maximum level flight speed.
d. For landing.
11. Propeller torque results from the forces on
the propeller:
a. Caused by the airflow, giving a moment around
the propeller’s longitudinal axis.
b. Caused by centrifugal effect, giving a moment
around the propellers’ longitudinal
c. Caused by the airflow, giving a moment around
the aircraft’s longitudinal axis.
d. Caused by centrifugal effect, giving a moment
around the aircraft’s longitudinal axis.
12. The thrust force of a propeller producing
forward thrust:

a. Tends to bend the propeller tips forward.

b. Tends to bend the propeller tips backward.
c. Tends to bend the propeller in its plane of
d. Causes a tension load in the propeller.
13. A propeller which is windmilling:

a. Rotates the engine in the normal direction

and gives some thrust.
b. Rotates the engine in reverse and gives
c. Rotates the engine in reverse and gives
some thrust.
d. Rotates the engine in the normal direction
and gives drag.
14. For an aircraft with a right hand propeller the
effect of slipstream rotation acting on the fin will
a. Yaw to the left.
b. Roll to the left.
c. Yaw to the right.
d. Nose up pitch.
15. To counteract the effect of slipstream
rotation on a single engine aircraft.

a. The fin may be reduced in size.

b. A “T” tail may be employed.
c. The fin may be off-set.
d. The wings may have washout.
16. The gyroscopic effect of a right hand
propeller will give:
a. A yawing moment to the left whenever the
engine is running.
b. A yawing moment to the left when the
aircraft rolls to the right.
c. A nose-up pitch when the aircraft yaws to
the right.
d. A yaw to the right when the aircraft pitches
nose up.
17. The alpha range of a variable pitch
propeller is between:

a. Feather and flight fine pitch stop.

b. Feather and ground fine pitch stop.
c. Flight fine pitch stop and reverse stop.
d. Ground fine pitch and reverse stop.
18. When the CSU is running “on speed”:

a. The governor weight centrifugal force

balances the CSU spring force.
b. The CSU spring force balances the oil
c. The governor weight centrifugal force
balances the oil pressure.
d. The supply of oil to the CSU is shut off.
19. If engine power is increased with the
propeller lever in the constant speed range,
rpm increase, then:
a. The governor weights move out, blade angle
decreases, rpm decreases, weights remain out.
b. The governor weights move in, blade angle
increases, rpm decreases, weights move out.
c. The governor weights move out, blade angle
increases, rpm decreases, weights move in.
d. The governor weights move out, blade angle
increases, rpm decreases, weights move in,
blade angle decreases again.
20. The purpose of the Centrifugal feathering
latch on a single acting propeller is to prevent:

a. CTM turning the propeller to fine pitches.

b. The propeller from accidentally feathering at
high rpm.
c. The propeller from feathering on shut down.
d. The propeller from overspeeding if the flight
fine pitch stop fails to reset.
21. A hydraulic accumulator may be fitted to a
single acting propeller to provide pressure for:

a. Normal constant speed operation of the

b. Operation of the propeller in the event of
failure of the CSU pump.
c. Feathering and unfettering the propeller.
d. Unfettering the propeller.
22. If it is required to increase the rpm of a variable
pitch propeller without moving the power
lever, the propeller lever must be moved:
a. Forward, the governor weights move
inwards, blade angle increases.
b. Backward, the governor weights move
outwards, blade angle decreases.
c. Forwards, the governor weights move
inwards, blade angle decreases.
d. Forwards, the governor weights move
outwards, blade angle decreases.
23. The CSU incorporates an oil pump.
Its purpose is:

a. To provide pressure to feather the propeller.

b. To provide pressure to unfeather the propeller.
c. To increase the engine oil pressure to a higher
pressure to operate the propeller pitch change
d. To ensure adequate lubrication of the CSU.
24. A propeller blade is twisted along its length:

a. To compensate for the Centrifugal Twisting

b. To maintain a constant angle of attack from
root to tip of the blade.
c. To increase the thrust given by the tip.
d. To maintain constant thrust from root to tip.
25. Propeller torque is:

a. The tendency of the propeller to twist around its

longitudinal axis.
b. The helical path of the propeller through the air.
c. The turning moment produced by the propeller
about the axis of the crankshaft.
d. The thrust produced by the propeller.
26. The greatest stress on a rotating propeller

a. At the tip.
b. At about 75% of the length.
c. At the mid point.
d. At the root.
27. The Beta range of a propeller is from:

a. The feather stops to the Flight Fine Pitch stop.

b. The feather stops to the Ground Fine Pitch stop.
c. The feather stops to the reverse pitch stop.
d. The Flight Fine Pitch stop to the reverse pitch
28. An ‘Auto - Feathering’ system senses:

a. Low rpm.
b. Decreasing rpm.
c. High torque.
d. Low torque.
29. What happens to the pitch of a variable pitch
propeller in order to maintain constant rpm when
(i) IAS is increased and (ii) Power is increased?
(i) (ii)
a. increases decreases
b. decreases increases
c. increases increases
d. decreases decreases
30. Propellers may have an ‘avoid’ range of rpm:

a. To avoid resonance peaks which could lead

to fatigue damage to the propeller.
b. To avoid excessive propeller noise.
c. Because the engine does not run efficiently
in that rpm range.
d. To avoid the possibility of detonation
occurring in the engine.
QUESTIONS – Piston Engines General Handling
1. What is the preferred direction for aircraft parking
prior to start-up?

a. Tail into wind.

b. Nose into wind.
c. 1st engine to be started on windward side.
d. Facing towards the duty runway threshold
to enable easy taxi-out.
2. Prior to starting a piston aero engine (in line
inverted) and after ensuring that the ignition is
“OFF”, which check may have to be carried out?

a. Check that the pilot’s flying licence is still in-date.

b. No further checks are necessary.
c. Obtain start-up permission from the Tower.
d. Carry out a check for engine hydraulicing
3. When an engine starts up and the starter key is
released, to what position does the key return?

a. “OFF”.
b. “ON”.
d. “BOTH”.
4. Immediately an engine has started up, what
is the first instrument reading to be checked?

a. Oil pressure.
b. Battery volts.
c. Gyro erection.
d. Vacuum.
5. What would be the likely effect of
prolonged running with a weak mixture?

a. Overheating.
b. Failure to come up to correct running
c. Carburettor icing.
d. High oil pressure
6. Should over-priming cause a fire to start in
the engine’s carburettor during starting,
what is the best immediate action?
a. Evacuate the aircraft and make a “flash” call to the
airport fire services.
b. Shut down the engine. The fire will extinguish
c. Keep the engine turning on the starter motor and
select “idle cut-off”. The fire should be drawn
through the engine.
d. Select weak mixture on the mixture control and
rapidly increase RPM.
7. When is the “Reference RPM” of an engine

a. Before the first flight of the day.

b. During engine warm-up.
c. By the engine’s manufacturer during “Type
d. When the engine is first installed in an
8. When is “Static Boost” noted?

a. Before engine start.

b. Just after engine start, while warming up.
c. It is permanently marked on the boost
d. It must be calculated from the airfield
9. At what RPM is a Magneto “dead cut”
check carried out?

a. At ground warm-up RPM.

b. At Reference RPM.
c. At Take-off RPM.
d. During the “Mag. drop” check.
10. If, during a “Mag. drop” check the engine
cuts, what action must be taken?

a. Immediately switch to “Both” and recheck.

b. Select the other magneto, increase RPM to burn
off the plug fouling and recheck.
c. The engine must be stopped.
d. Decrease RPM to idle for no more than 1
minute. Reselect reference RPM and recheck.
11. If, during a “Mag. drop” check there is no
drop in RPM, what is the most likely cause?

a. A really good ignition system.

b. One of the switches being seized in the
open circuit position.
c. One of the switches being seized in the
closed circuit position.
d. The plug leads from that magneto have not
been connected.
12. What are the main reasons to exercise a
propeller from fine to coarse pitch after warm-up?
a. In order that a pilot may practise propeller
control technique before take-off.
b. To pre-set the feathering signal before take-
off, in case of an emergency.
c. To check that a full range of control is
available at take-off boost.
d. To replace the cold oil in the pitch change
mechanism and check RPM control.
13. At what mixture and carb. heat setting is a
take-off normally carried out?

a. Fully weak and carb. heat fully off.

b. Fully rich and carb. heat fully on.
c. Fully rich and carb. heat fully off.
d. Fully weak and carb. heat fully off.
14. Why, when climbing, is the engine
temperature monitored carefully?
a. A low temperature will be the only sign that pre-
ignition is occurring.
b. Decreasing air density will reduce the engine
cooling system’s efficiency.
c. A low engine temperature can give rise to poor
atomisation of fuel, and thus adversely affect
Specific Fuel Consumption.
d. Use of high power at relatively low speed can
allow engine temperature to creep up.
15. When cruising in a fixed-pitch propeller
equipped aircraft, what, from the list below,
would be the symptoms of carburettor icing?
1. Increase in manifold
temperature. Choose from the following:
2. Decrease in RPM. a. (2), (3) and (5)
3. Loss of airspeed. b. (1), (2) and (7)
4. Increase in engine c. (4), (5), (6) and (7)
temperature. d. (3), (4), (5) and (7)
5. Loss of altitude.
6. Loss of oil temperature.
7. Increase in RPM.
16. What is the main danger from using a
weak mixture at a high power setting?

a. Low cylinder head temperature.

b. Low fuel pressure.
c. Pre-ignition.
d. Detonation.
17. What are the most likely effects on an
engine of a low power, high speed descent?

a. Engine over-speeding and consequent damage.

b. Engine overcooling and carburettor icing.
c. Engine overheating and oil cooler coring.
d. High oil temperature and piston ring gumming
18. What problem is prevented by the use of
the correct running down procedure?

a. Spark plug fouling.

b. Oil cooler coring.
c. Very high rate of piston ring wear.
d. Over high temperatures on next start-up.
19. What is the correct way to shut down an engine?

a. Switch off both magnetos together.

b. Switch off the fuel booster pump.
c. Move the mixture control to ICO.
d. Feather the propeller when at idle RPM.
20. What are the two main symptoms of an
excessively rich mixture?
a. Loss of power and a drop in cylinder head
b. Gain in power and a drop in cylinder head
c. Loss of power and a rise in cylinder head
d. Gain in power and a rise in cylinder head
Thank You for Your Attention !